The BBC has offered to share some of its news footage with national and regional newspapers in a bid to ‘do more to support the newspaper industry’.
The partnership offer was announced today as part of a broad range of proposals by the corporation to help other public service broadcasters and the broader media industry.
BBC director general Mark Thompson said the broadcaster had been in discussions already with one national daily newspaper about pooling video for its website and said the BBC would be willing to talk with any other national and regional titles.
The corporation also announced it is waiving the charge it makes for newspapers and magazines to publish BBC TV listings, which Thompson estimated could save the press about £1m a year in costs.
“We’re been in discussion with one national daily newspaper about a pilot scheme which would for example make BBC online video much more available to that newspaper’s website,” Thompson told journalists at a press conference in Broadcasting House this afternoon.
“If that is successful we will also offer similar arrangements to any other newspaper – national or regional – who want to take advantage of them.”
News of the partnership proposal comes after the BBC Trust rejected BBC plans to provide video news packages on the broadcaster’s network of 65 local websites.
The BBC today also outlined a broad range of proposals which it estimates could deliver at least £120m a year in benefits to other public service broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4 and Five.
Under the proposals, the BBC would offer some of its non-exclusive news video on a pool basis and would share outside broadcast trucks and digital production technology with its rivals.
“We have more financial certainty than the other PSBs, especially during a downturn,” Thompson said.
“The essential answer to are we prepared to share is yes we are. Neither we, nor our audiences, want the BBC to be the last man standing.
“As the economics of regional TV news get tighter, it will make more sense. Why send multiple camera crews to get rushes of a local traffic accident when just one will do?
Thompson said sharing resources would not impact on the editorial independence of either the BBC or the other PSBs.
“What we are taking about are not BBC, but PSB partnerships with shared governance and control, in other words partnerships that cannot be dominated by the BBC,” he said.
Thompson added: “The editorial mind – the choice and treatment and stories – would remain, as now, separate.
The BBC has approached ITV with its proposals and is waiting to hear its response.
The offer comes at a time when ITV is restructuring its regional news operation, merging certain regions and cutting more than 400 jobs at local level.
Thompson said: “These proposals directly address the central question of the public service broadcasting debate – how we ensure a sustainable future in the digital age.
“The partnerships would mean the PSBs working together, with the BBC as a catalyst, to achieve sustainable benefits for the long term.”
The BBC also confirmed that discussions were underway to “explore a series of commercial areas of co-operation between BBC Worldwide and Channel 4”.
It has also offered to open up the technology behind the iPlayer to other public service broadcasters.
Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan said in a statement this afternoon that the BBC’s proposals would not go far enough to solve the broadcaster’s funding issues.
“With the exception of the suggested partnership with BBC Worldwide, we don’t believe these proposals offer any tangible financial benefit for Channel 4” he said.
“Based on our experience of selling advertising around on-demand viewing, we’ve given the BBC clear feedback that their assumptions about the commercial benefits of a link with the iPlayer are inaccurate.
“We don’t share their view that this particular proposal could deliver an immediate and sizeable financial upside.”